Green Wedding Guide: An Eco-Friendly Wedding Reception

by admin

This entry is part 5 of The Green Wedding Guide Series
Adapted from “How To Get Married In Green” by Suzan St Maur

As you know, wedding receptions can take many forms other than the traditional ones we have come to accept as the standard choices. But you do not need to be restricted to traditional formats of wedding reception unless you particularly want to be. Nowadays almost anything goes, and not only are some of these formats greener – they can also save you a lot of money.

Casual barbecue receptions: Assuming these use acceptable fuels to cook the food, and use organic, locally-grown produce for the barbecue along with organic salads, potato dishes, and desserts, they are relatively green in nature. In addition because guests mingle casually and do not expect gifts, favors, place cards, etc. wastage is kept to a minimum.

American-style “pot luck” or guest-participation receptions: This may seem a bit too informal for rigid British tastes, but think again. The idea here is that instead of wedding gifts, guests bring a dish each to the wedding reception and contribute that to the buffet for all to enjoy. Not only is it an economically bright idea, but also is likely to involve locally grown and certainly locally sourced food, as well as – we hope – the organic variety in addition.

Brunch receptions: These are very popular in North America and are becoming more popular here, with good reason. From a green point of view they are helpful because they are held from late morning to early afternoon, so requiring less in the way of artificial light. From a catering point of view they can encompass pretty well anything you like, from organic range free eggs and locally-cured bacon on locally made organic toasted bread … to a full lunch menu. The style is less formal than the traditional afternoon/evening reception, and there is usually less alcohol consumption; e.g. organic tea and coffee, fruit juices and perhaps Bucks Fizz made with organic orange juice and organic British fizzy white wine.

Tea receptions: This may seem like a quirky idea but it does cut back on the cost of food and drink and is a lovely variant – especially popular with children. Food wise you serve everything you would at a formal tea party, which in this case can be produced from locally sourced and made sandwiches, cakes, pastries and sweets. Organic tea is the main drink which of course can be supplemented by alcohol if required. The time frame for this type of reception is mid-afternoon until early evening, which is helpful if many guests have distances to travel home and/or have young children who can’t really attend an evening reception.

Drinks and canapés: This is an ideal reception format if you want to create a high-luxury, ultra-sophisticated atmosphere without spending a fortune or creating too much eco-damage. The timing will be approximately that of a cocktail party, i.e. early evening, for about two hours. You serve either (organic, possibly even British) champagne, or (organic) cocktails and a selection of tasty savory and sweet morsels, some on their own, some on organic mini oat cakes and other locally produced biscuits and crackers. The fact that most guests will remain standing (although of course you should provide seating around the room for those who don’t want to stand) means it’s very much easier for bride and groom to circulate and talk to everyone. Energy requirements are relatively low, especially if all canapés served are cold, and if the reception is held in the summer half of the year when natural light may be all you need.

Let’s turn our attention now to some of the other issues surrounding wedding receptions and how we can make them greener.

Lighting: Depending on the venue of your choice, lighting can consume substantial amounts of power which might otherwise be avoided. Consider, as alternatives, at least energy-saving bulbs throughout your reception venue. Beyond that consider, too, the use of soy-based or beeswax-based candles and perhaps more to the point, selecting a time of day for your reception that does not require much, if any, use of artificial light.

Basic items. A horrible term, I know, but one which describes quite efficiently the essential items you need in order to make your reception happen. These include everything from cups to saucers to glasses to knives and forks to plates to napkins to all things beyond. How can these be greener?

Biodegradable everything? Well, believe it or not at the time of writing there are things like biodegradable plates made from sugar cane, and biodegradable cutlery made from potato. Whether you would want to go to that extreme in terms of having them at your wedding reception, I’m not sure – potentially the expense of buying these products would exceed that of hiring good, old fashioned re-usable crockery and cutlery. At the time of writing, at least, my vote would rest there. Yes, such items need to be washed up, but at least they will be there for some time to come, and are not derived from space-age technology that might mean they evaporate into thin air at the mere touch of soap suds.

Disposable items: Well, here is a debatable list of stuff. Despite being made out of recyclable materials – i.e. paper – disposable plates, cups, glasses, etc. are not necessarily the greenest way forward. Why? Because they are capable of creating a great deal of clutter in recycling and landfill terms, although if channelled through paper or cardboard recycling they aren’t too much of a problem. What eco-experts say now is that crockery is best, because it can be re-used again and again and that washing it need not make much of an impression on the eco-filth levels in our drains and sewers, especially if eco-friendly soaps are used.

So what other elements of your wedding reception can we look at in terms of helping towards a greener outcome? See Part 2 for more eco-friendly wedding reception ideas.

Images © Mikol , Flickr and McBeth
Guest Author Bio: Canadian-born Suzan St Maur is a researcher, writer, editor and author specializing in business, consumer and humor topics. She has extensive experience of writing across all media in both corporate and entertainment fields, and is also well known as a business and humorous columnist on hundreds of websites internationally. As well as writing her own material she coaches and edits other people’s books, scripts and text, and advises on book preparation and publication. You can read more about her and her work on her website – http://www.suzanstmaur.com

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